Textbook Costs Dropping Thanks to Digital Resources


College students are paying less for class materials, thanks in part to the success of OpenStax – an organization that provides free textbooks and digital resources.

The nonprofit, started six years ago by Rice University (TX), serves more than 2.2 million students, according to a recent article in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Nearly half of all US colleges currently use the service, which offers 29 free textbooks for college and Advanced Placement classes.

And for the first time in five decades, average textbook costs are decreasing, according to recent data analyzed by the National Center of Education Statistics.

“We’re excited about the rapidly growing number of instructors making the leap to open textbooks,” OpenStax founder Richard Baraniuk said in a press release. “Our community is creating a movement that will make a big impact on college affordability. The success of open textbooks like OpenStax has ignited competition in the textbook market, and textbook prices are actually falling for the first time in 50 years.”

Baraniuk and others hope the trend will expand college access for low-income students.

Students can access OpenStax textbooks online. They can also download the materials onto an e-reader or print out specific pages.

Students who want a paper copy of the full textbook can place orders through Amazon or OpenStax at a reduced rate. According to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, the prices start at $29.

Learn about OpenStax and read more about the burden high-cost textbooks place on students.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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